Chess players often divide each game into three parts; the opening, the middle, and the end game. The opening game is the earliest stages of development. Here some unprepared players find life cut short by focusing on winning rather than development. I often accuse them of trying to grow up to fast. Experienced players know how to prepare themselves for the later parts of the game.
The middle game, like mid-life, is where we are most agile and effective on the board. We have the greatest ability to move and make strategic decisions. This is also the most crucial part of our lives. We must take advantage of opportunities; protect ourselves from threats; and prepare ourselves for the future.
The end game can be compared to the later years of life. It is defined by the last few pieces that remain on the board. Most games don’t make it to this stage. Ironically, it is this part of the game that reveals how effective we have been in our decision-making. In the end game, we see the true skills of the master.
I often tell my students, “You can always win until you lose.” At every stage of life, we make decisions that will impact our future. Sometimes, we make decisions that do not produce the results we envision. There are times when we discover opportunities that we didn’t see coming. Yet, there are other times that it seems hopeless and dark; time when the lights go out and our situation seems insurmountable. In those times, it seems like we can’t win.
However, we can always win, until we lose. This game called life is designed for each of us to be winners. It’s about making our best move each time it’s our turn. That’s the most beautiful part. We are challenged each day to make our best moves, make our most creative decision and keep playing. Our challenge is to stay in the game. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought surely that the game was over, only to realize moments later that I had an advantage that I overlooked. Winning is sometimes only a move away, but you won’t know if you quit.
Now, I’m not implying that you will always win, because sometimes it is good, even better, to lose rather than win. The point is not to give up too soon. Keep playing. And even when you lose, as you sometimes will, there’s always time for another game.
Let me know about a time when you have pulled out a win from a seeming loss. I’d love to hear about it.